Zambia looses K818 million annually due to illicit alcohol consumption, reports say


Zambia is losing approximately K818 million each year due to the widespread consumption of illicit alcohol, which accounts for 61 percent of the total alcohol consumed in the country, according to a key industry figure.

Thais Cavinatto, Zambian Breweries Country Director, revealed that 71 percent of patrons consuming illicit alcohol are between the ages of 18 and 44.

Cavinatto made these remarks during the Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM) 2025 pre-budget meeting held in Lusaka on Thursday.

“Harmful alcohol use is one of the four modifiable behavioral risk factors of non-communicable diseases, alongside tobacco use, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diets,” she stated.

To combat this issue, Cavinatto proposed legislative changes to regulate the minimum pack size of bottled spirits, suggesting an increase from 200 ml to 750 ml.

She argued that this measure would reduce the consumption of spirits in situations that could lead to personal and public harm, such as while at work.

Increasing the minimum pack size would also help restrict access to alcohol by underage consumers, who significantly contribute to illicit alcohol consumption in Zambia.

Read More: ZRA seizes truck laden with 2,000 cases of alcoholic brews, as documents show bags of maize bran

Cavinatto expressed concern over the reuse of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottles for packaging and reselling locally produced spirits, pointing out the potential health risks.

“Reusing PET bottles for alcohol poses a significant public health threat due to the potential chemical reactions that can contaminate the beverages,” Cavinatto warned.

She noted that bottles originally intended for soft drinks or energy drinks were being repurposed to package alcohol, raising further public health concerns.

“This practice heightens the likelihood of disease transmission and other health hazards. We implore the government to consider measures that will improve health and safety legislation on the reuse of bottles for packing locally produced spirits,” Cavinatto urged.

She also commended the government for revising the excise duty on denatured ethanol to align it with the rate on undenatured ethanol and suggested further differentiation in excise rates between the two.

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